Palm Sunday Recollection; RH Bill gaining or losing ground?

Published by rudy Date posted on April 11, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — The 15th Family Recollection of the Mission Angels of Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, will be held on Palm Sunday, April 17 at the Meralco Theatre, courtesy of Amb. Manuel Lopez (Mission Angels president) and his wife Marites, from 8 am to 1 pm.

This will be aired live as a Lenten public service of PTNI-4 and AB Leisure Corp. at 9 am. Priests will be available for confessions starting at 7:00 am. The theme for this Palm Sunday Recollection is “Be Still And Know That I Am God” and the sharers will be Nena Paras, Chet Espino, Bro. Rene Tumang, and Corky Hernandez.

Guest speaker is Bro. Jun Banaag, OP, aka “Dr. Love” of DZMM. Singers will be Angelos, Cocoy Laurel & Com-pany, Cercado Sisters, Fatima Soriano, Oasis of Love Praise Ministry led by Mike Vinas. Entrance is free, so come and be refreshed spiritually. There will be palms made by the SVD seminarians at the main lobby for sale before the recollection.

More good news, straight from the Palace. P-Noy has signed the

E.O. giving subsidies to jeepneys and tricycles. Buses and taxis will have to wait. The Conditional Cash Program has added some 500,000 more families to its list because of prudent spending on the part of the national government.

There’s more. Government Owned and Controlled Corporations remitted more than P29 billion to the national treasury in dividends, up from only P1 billion in the past administration. No more fabulous perks and bonuses, I guess.

And tourist arrivals increased by half a million warm bodies despite the hostage fiasco and the DOT misbranding of its promotional campaign. I still like the “Wow Philippines” slogan or the “Islands Beautiful.” Anyway… good news is good news…

Now, why do we need a Reproductive Health Law that has percolated for nine years in our Congress and is stirring up emotional debates that oftentimes deteriorate into name-calling?

Because the World Bank and other international agencies demand it? Because the multi-national drug firms are pushing it? Or is our population growth (highest in Asia, it is claimed) spinning out of control and preventing us from eradicating poverty and high child and maternal deaths? Or all of the above in varying degrees?

Advocates of the bill came to our Bulong Pulungan session at Sofitel Hotel to tell us about their support for the bill, which will be up for debates and maybe just may be passed finally because the Speaker is behind it too, according to former health secretary Dr. Quasi Romualdez, former Usec. Ben de Leon of Forum for Family Planning and Development and lawyer Claire Padilla, founder of the NGO EnGendeRights, Inc. for the protection of women’s rights.

Among the three, Dr. Romualdez is the sober voice with his medical background, Claire and Ben, both activists for the bill, are the more impassioned ones who don’t hesitate to slam the “conservative bishops and priests” and Catholics for objecting vehemently to the passage of the bill and have resorted to “pressuring” the congressmen and women into voting against it. Ben’s presentation of the case for the RH bill was simple but very informative.

Some of the “whys” Padilla put forth for the bills were “friendly” enough for the “antis” such as protection of women and babies, prevention of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, among others.

It was noted that P-Noy has been dialoguing with the CBCP for their inputs and has not wavered on his stand for responsible parenthood and this is premised on freedom of informed choice.

Personally, I go with freedom of well-informed choice, no coercion on government and private health workers to give away contraceptives if it is against their conscience and access for the marginalized women to methods and means on planning their families. And, to me, sex education not only for young students in school but for their parents! And yes, I agree, there are too many children who are out on the streets because of poverty. Let’s all focus on that issue too—alleviation of poverty, the root cause of many evils in society today.

The “pro” and “anti” advocates of the bill are busy now raising awareness on their cause among the general public and their representatives before the re-opening of Congress.

They raise the issue of the separation of Church and state quite effectively, as enshrined in the Constitution. But then again, if it is a question of conscience and morals, who do the people turn to but their Church.

On other issues, our language has some of the most wonderful and descriptive idiomatic expressions which convey precise imagery as well as connotation. One of them is “malayo sa bituka”—literally, “far from the gut”—which describes our nature to overlook issues that do not have a direct effect on everyday living.

Indeed, for as long as these issues remain in the realm of abstract idea and outside the circle of fundamental priorities, people will be reluctant to fully understand them.

However, concerns that are often shunted to the backburner as being “malayo sa bituka” may really be the exact opposite. While their effects may not be immediate, they usually take on a much grander scale.

Take for example, environmental awareness. Most of us don’t really appreciate the need to avoid using and irresponsibly discarding plastic products and Styrofoam, until a flood sinks our house or place of business. Buying pirated DVDs may seem innocent enough until thousands of industry workers start losing their jobs.

Given this, in light of recent headlines, anti-trust supporters have been handed the perfect opportunity to promote their cause. As a concept, anti-trust has been discussed and debated in the Philippines for years, going back to the Marcos era when monopolies were rampant.

In 2008, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile already proposed Senate Bill 123, otherwise known as the anti-trust act, but to date, nothing concrete has come out of it. We don’t have an anti-trust law that will prevent “pacman-type tycoons” gobbling up business in all sectors – telecoms, infrastructure, medical centers, media, among others. In Asia, we are only one of two countries without this law!

It’s only now that we are beginning to realize how this anti-trust thing can actually affect our livelihoods, job securities, income opportunities, and even our ability to make text messages and calls on our cellphones free of charge!

Lately, a number of giant corporations have been under the anti-trust spotlight, and the discussions have finally been brought to a level that the man-on-the-street can relate to. -DEEDEE M. SIYTANGCO, Manila Bulletin

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